OTTAWA — Call it the art of the non-deal.
As the fourth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation begins this week near Washington, a consensus is growing that a series of untenable U.S. bargaining positions is part of simple plan by U.S. President Donald Trump to lay the groundwork so he can walk away from the continental trade pact to please his domestic base.
Some cite a Buy American proposal that would limit Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. procurement projects presented in the third round of talks in Ottawa two weeks ago.
Watch: U.S. Chamber of Commerce warns U.S. demands could derail NAFTA talks
But more clangers could drop in this upcoming round when the U.S. might wade into another area contentious area: its desire for more access to Canada’s protected and supply managed dairy industry.
“I’m becoming more and more of the view that the proposals we’re seeing are poison pills,” said Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based international trade lawyer with the firm Dickinson Wright.
“These are proposals that neither Canada nor Mexico can accept.”
“It’s going nowhere fast. It’s clear. The U.S. has some ridiculous proposals on the table.”Jerry Dias, Unifor
Ujczo and others say the Buy American proposal was prime example. Simply put, the U.S. wanted to limit the Mexican and Canadian ability to bid on U.S. procurement contracts, while seeking greater access for Americans firms to Mexican and Canadian government projects.
That sticking point comes with other hard issues still on the horizon, including dairy, auto parts, the dispute resolution system and the U.S. push for a review of NAFTA every five years.
“It’s going nowhere fast. It’s clear. The U.S. has some ridiculous proposals on the table,” said Jerry Dias, the head of the Canadian union Unifor.
“You only put those types of proposals on the table if you’re not looking really to find a deal.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland addressed the Buy American issue in Ottawa on the last day of talks two weeks ago, saying the recently-completed Canada-EU free trade deal, which opened up local procurement to both sides, was Canada’s preferred option.
“We would like to encourage our immediate neighbours to meet the levels of ambition we have been able to achieve with our partners across the Atlantic.”
Peter Clark, an Ottawa-based international trade strategist who was involved in the original NAFTA and Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations, said the American behaviour is a vivid and unprecedented example of how not …
Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel